INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
State officials are renewing their call for retired health care workers to
help relieve staff in Indiana’s hospitals and long-term care facilities as
the number of hospitalizations and new infections across the state continue
to spike at record highs.
Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said Wednesday that hospitals and
healthcare workers in Indiana are swamped, “needing support now more than
hospitals are currently seeing more coronavirus patients than at any other
time in the pandemic. There were 2,070 Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID-19
as of Saturday, according to the state’s online coronavirus dashboard.
Roughly 70% of the Indiana’s intensive care unit beds were in use.
“This all takes an
incredible toll,” Box said during a news conference. “The greatest strain
right now is on our hospital workforce, which is in the ninth month of
responding to this pandemic, and facing the greatest patient load yet. They
are, frankly, exhausted.”
continue to be the greatest challenge, Box said, especially as health care
workers in high-spread areas of the state require to be quarantined after
exposure to an infected person outside the workplace. The health department
is now talking to hospital leadership about ways to better juggle staffing,
but Box said there’s still a need for additional reservists who would be
“willing to serve.”
are not short on personal protective equipment, putting them in a better
position than they were this spring, said Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who
has continued to resist calls for reinstating coronavirus restrictions: “We
have the capacity to care right now. When we start to lose that capacity to
care, then we’re going to have to become more and more restrictive.”
Last month, state
officials announced more than 1,300 members of Indiana’s National Guard were
being deployed to the 133 hardest hit long-term care centers to assist with
infection control practices like improved COVID-19 testing for facility
residents and employees. That support - meant, in part, to relieve health
care staff - will then expand to all 534 nursing homes in Indiana over the
next three weeks, Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles said. The extra
help will be available until Dec. 31.
Both Box and
Holcomb said Wednesday they appreciate all that health care workers are
doing, but emphasized that Hoosiers, too, should extend their gratitude by
wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing their hands.